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No, I can't give you a maximalist, colourful living room and here's why...

If you've ever come across my Instagram page or had a little browse on my website, you'll know I don't do much colour. And if you ask me for a big, bold colourful space, I'll probably refer you to another designer (unless you're under the age of 10).

No, it's not because I'm precious about sticking to a signature design style or only want to work on projects that will look great on on my feed. It's becuase of a feeling...

Contrast, texture and organic materials = perfection. From our product shoot for ClareyP Pours.

Design is about how a space makes you feel

Ultimately, what I strive to create in all my designs, is a certain type of feeling. For me, that feeling is often 'calm'. Probably because I find the world overwhelming sometimes, and I like to come home to somewhere my mind can rest, decompress.

My natural tendency is for neutral spaces that err on the side of minimalism but with plenty of warmth. I like clean lines, I like negative space, I like layers of texture and tone. This is calm, for me.

I also like little punches of contrast; black on white (or grey/beige/greige...) - crisp lines, everything carefully delineated, clearly occupying one space or the other. The potency of the black surrounded by the negative space of the white - impact and interest without overwhelm. It's what my brain craves.

I appreciate some people may find this contrast stark, cold, abrupt, intrusive. But when I look at it, I feel a sense of order; everything in its right place. For me, this is soothing for the mind. And this is why I gravitate towards it in all my designs.

Soften it up with organic materials and textures and boom. The sweet spot.

Work with a designer that is your style match

I don't feel the same way when I look at a bold, colourful, maximalist room. It's not to say I don't appreciate the beauty of a colourful scheme, and quite frankly I'm in awe of those designers that can blend colours and patterns in a perfectly balanced way. But it's not my forte. And if that's the kind of space you are after, I will happily recommend my talented design colleagues to you because I know they will give you something more beautiful than I could.

Look at a designer's body of work and think about why you like it. How it makes you feel. If you feel good about it, work with that designer. If you'll be trying to fit a square peg into a round hole, find a different peg.


Ready to take the plunge? Have a question? Get in touch, we'd love to help.


Studio Van Oliver is a UAE-based interior design studio, specialising in residential design, home renovation and styling.

We love creating spaces that - quite simply - feel like home. Warm and welcoming spaces that evoke that ‘ahh’ moment. The feeling you get when you flop into bed after a long day; the glow of a lamp at night; a cup of tea in a quiet house.


Little moments of peace, comfort, reflection.



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